Commentary by Walter Albritton


March 19, 2006


We cannot hide from the God who knows all about us


Psalm 139


Key Verse:  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.  – Psalm 139:14


          My wife Dean knows me better than anyone except God, yet recently she said to me, “Even though we have been married 54 years we still do not know everything about each other.” I agreed. We continue to make new discoveries about each other.

          In my pre-marital counseling I share with couples that I have never needed another woman in my life because Dean is always becoming another woman. That has added excitement to my life. I am challenged constantly to know how to relate to this wonderful woman who is forever changing and embracing new ways to live as a servant of Jesus Christ. I have to run to keep up with her.

          What is remarkable to me is that the better I get to know my wife, the more I love her. The more I love her, the more I realize that her patience tolerance of my idiosyncrasies springs from her love for me. Surely that is why God wants us to know Him; the better we know God the more we will love Him. The more we love Him, the more we understand how much He desires loving intimacy with us.

Intimacy means so much in marriage. I want to be with my wife not for what she can do for me but because of the total acceptance I feel in her presence. In much the same way God wants to be “with” us not so we can ask Him to do many things for us but so we can enjoy the assurance of His love for us.

          The Psalmist realizes that God knows everything about him.  He knows he cannot hide from God since God sees all and knows all. He offers the marvelous insight that even the darkness is like light to God. Darkness often instills fear in us but the Psalmist is confident that God loves us so much that He will hold our right hand even in the dark.

          Even more wonderful for the Psalmist is the incredible creation of the human body. It is God who knits together the tiny baby in the mother’s womb. The conception and growth of a tiny baby is not merely a biological matter; the Creator of the universe is there! God is in charge, shaping the embryo of the person who will one day realize and exclaim with joy, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”!

          The human body is indeed wonderfully made, so wonderful that we should take good care of it and use it as a sacred temple of the Holy Spirit. We should constantly thank God for our body and celebrate its marvelous capacity to meet our needs.

Estelle Carver taught me a good lesson when she said, “When I am taking a shower and washing my body, I give thanks to the Father for my body and for the way it has served my spirit for so many years.” Ever since hearing her say that, I have followed her example by praying in the shower and thanking God for my body.

My friend Melvin Gaylard works with youth in the Farm Hill United Methodist Church in Cantonment, Florida. Melvin has no hands; his arms end at his elbows. Still he thanks God for his body and does not feel sorry for himself.  He refuses to think of himself as handicapped; somehow he makes his elbows think they are hands. Melvin’s beautiful Christian spirit inspires those who know him to get busy using their more “normal” bodies to serve the Lord.

The Psalmist teaches us not to be afraid because God knows all about us, but to invite God to reveal to us any thoughts of our hearts that we need to let God cleanse or correct. We are wise to follow his example by asking the Lord to show us any wrong paths we may have taken and to lead us to the right paths. When we are willing, the Spirit can convict us of wicked thoughts or motives and move us to repent of thinking that we could handle life without God’s help.

Thomas Merton once offered an intriguing observation about knowing God. He raised the question as to how we might fare when one day we encounter God as He really is.  If when we encounter God, He turns out to be what we have pictured him to be, then we can probably handle it. But what if, Merton says, God turns out to be different from what we have thought.

Suppose in the intense heat of his holy presence, our sham and pretense is exposed until layer after layer of our ugly deceit is burned away. Finally all that remains of us is the person we truly are. Will we be able in that holy light to endure an encounter with the living God?

Such a question may prompt us to say in despair, “No, I could not stand it!” Merton, however, teaches us that we can handle it once we realize that God knows what we really are and He loves us anyway. God knows the truth about us and he wants us to give up pretending and begin to worship him with all our hearts.

The more we get to know God, the more we love Him. The more we love Him, the more we worship Him. The more we worship Him, the less we fear being transparent. The more transparent we become, the more we can trust and love God. The more we trust and love God, the more we will reflect the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Since we cannot escape God, we might as well embrace Him and get to know Him so well that His love can make us all that we ought to be – and can be – by the grace of God!

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